Staff fear fewer bins may soil university's image

November 18, 2010

After the funding cuts come the cost-saving measures: academics at the University of Aberdeen have been asked to take on cleaning duties in an attempt to save money.

Staff have been ordered to dispose of their own waste and to tidy lecture theatres after finishing their classes.

A memo sent to all staff says the cleaning service they have become accustomed to is "no longer sustainable in light of the Comprehensive Spending Review and anticipated future funding. Offices will only be cleaned once a week with a reduction in service to some other areas across campus," they are told.

The cutbacks follow the government's decision to cut higher education funding by 40 per cent, or £2.9 billion, by 2014-15.

At Aberdeen, bins have been removed from offices, and staff have been told to dispose of their own rubbish in communal bins at the end of each corridor.

The library will now be cleaned only twice a week, meaning common areas cannot be used for hospitality without prior permission. Following a voluntary severance scheme that ran from July to October, cleaning services at the university have been reduced by a quarter.

Staff contacted Times Higher Education to complain that the cuts could damage the image of the university.

One social sciences lecturer, who asked not to be named, said: "With 20 to 30 offices on each corridor, the bins are going to fill up fairly quickly - some of us are joking about getting a rat catcher in.

"We only have to have a photograph of rubbish falling out of a common bin put on a student website - what image is that going to give of our university? I wonder whether the vice-chancellor has lost his bin?"

Alex Arthur, president of the Aberdeen University and College Union branch, said that although staff had been consulted on the changes, many had not understood their impact.

A spokesman for the university said "careful consideration" had been given to the cuts in cleaning services. Communal bins would be emptied daily, he said.

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